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Friday, October 13, 2017

Matt Cardin on Chapel Perilous

Matt Cardin 

Matt Cardin is a writer, editor, English professor and RAW fan who has immersed himself in Wilson's works. He has a particular interest in horror fiction. 

I've mentioned him occasionally in this space, but I missed his 2012 blog essay "Initiation by Nightmare: Cosmic Horror and Chapel Perilous" until I saw the Secret Transmissions link on Twitter.  

Matt relates how he was plagued by sleep paralysis attacks in the 1990s and at first related it to cosmic horror, i.e. reading Lovecraft, Lovecraft criticism and authors influenced by Lovecraft. (Lovecraft was also an influence on Wilson, as many of you know). 

"There was, however, another vocabulary I could have used, and it would have complemented the cosmic horrific one in mutually illuminating fashion. It was the vocabulary of consciousness change and high paranormal weirdness encoded in the idea of Chapel Perilous as explicated by Robert Anton Wilson. But this didn’t occur to me until much later," he writes.

Matt then goes on to explore the concept of Chapel Perilous and the history of the concept in works such as From Ritual To Romance by Jessie Weston. 

Cardin's conclusion is sobering:

"We’re all playing with fire, those of us who actively perturb consciousness, and also those of us who have such perturbations forced upon us by powers outside our ken and control. In the words of the weekly closing narration to a classic horror television series, the nightmare aspect of daimonic reality, the aspect that the great writers of cosmic horror fiction have accessed and illustrated in their work, “is always there, waiting for us to enter, waiting to enter us.” This is not mere poetic speech, nor is it mere aesthetic or intellectual entertainment for those drawn to the dark side of fiction, film, philosophy, and spirituality. This is deadly truth.

"Wilson spoke of Chapel Perilous in terms of the perceived arrival of a spiritual ally that helps one through a crisis. But there’s another corridor of the chapel where the ally’s aspect is decidedly darker, and where it’s damned difficult to see and understand him, her, or it as an ally at all. The fact that the classic ally in the Western esoteric and occult traditions is one’s daemon, one’s genius, one’s Holy Guardian Angel, makes this darker aspect of the experience all the more disturbing, for what does it mean when your own “higher self,” the daemon or daimon who, according to the ancient Western understanding, represents the divine template and design for your life — and which in a modern-day context we can metaphorize as the “unconscious mind,” especially in a Jungian sense — what does it mean when this, the most intimate and personal-to-you of all possible psychological/spiritual realities, appears in the form of a demonic, assaulting presence?"

Matt's "Teeming Brain" blog seems very interesting.

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